Breastfeeding Benefits for Your Baby

Some exciting research into breastfeeding benefits has been released this year.  Most recently on it's affects on lowering ADHD in children!  Another great research article released by the Canadian Medical Association early this year showed just how much difference there was in the bacteria of a formula fed baby's digestion as compared to a breastfed baby, and that's really great information to have while you try to minimize your baby's risk of allergies and intolerances!

(Were you searching for information about benefits for the mother? Click here for the benfits of breastfeeding for the mother. )

My 8 Favourite Breastfeeding Benefits

Less Infections - I was so disappointed when my little guy weaned himself at 13 months, he was the sickest he'd ever been just after that, with several colds and lots of runny nose time and general grumpy time.

Breast milk has so lots of living immune cells in it so I knew he wasn't getting any of that stuff any more.

I'd say that's why kissing your baby and having such close contact with them in those early months to years is so beneficial to your milk - you get exposed to all the bugs they've got from other people and help them get over it by giving them the breastfeeding benefit of an immune boost!

Your baby's face shape, and tongue use is well developed -Did you know that breastfeeding your baby is helping them to use their tongue and swallowing muscles more effectively?

As a health carer I tend to look at how people and babies use their muscles more than your average person would.

When you start treating kids who are getting close to their teens and are looking like they need braces you start looking at how their tongue and swallowing muscles are working.

This use of the tongue helps to lay down patterns of mouth and tongue muscle use which are helpful in the development of normal speech patterns. Your baby will also have to open it's mouth wider to attach properly to your breast than they do to attach to the nipple. This helps their gums and jaw bones to develop well and allows more room for teeth to come down straight when they start to appear. This leads to less need for costly and painful orthodontic work in the future.

Endorphins released in breast milk help to calm your child - Oh man I missed this when my little guy stopped breastfeeding... How do you calm a screaming, sick baby down without a breast - the poor little thing.

Did you now too that you're helping your baby to be less stressed as an adult? - By helping them calm down, they are not stimulating the part of the brain which controls stress as often, so it doesn't overdevelop.

Your milk is always suitable for the age of your baby - As your baby grows and develops it needs differing amounts of sustenance and different formulations of that food. Your breast milk automatically changes with your baby's development to suit their needs, and if you demand feed you'll automatically make more milk when your baby is going through a growth spurt - how clever are our bodies!!

Less Fussy when Introduced to Solids - What an awesome breastfeeding benefit this has been for me! Breast milk tastes different at each feed depending on what the mother has consumed prior to producing that milk. For this reason babies who have been exclusively breastfed until the introduction of solids are less likely to be fussy about trying several different foods.

It takes more energy to breastfeed than it does to bottle feed - and thus you need to realize that if you are doing complementary feeds with a bottle your baby may start to refuse the breast because it is more work for them to get a feed. At first this sounds like a downside to breastfeeding, however, this may be a part of the reason that breastfed infants are less likely to develop diabetes later in life, but whatever the cause, less likelihood of diabetes is a very good breastfeeding benefit. Exclusively breastfed babies are also likely to have a lower average weight gain and less likelihood of obesity

Less Asthma, Eczema and Allergies - When your baby is first born the cells that line the digestive system aren't as closely spaced as those in adults, this can cause what's known as leaky gut syndrome. This means that big proteins, and sometimes even bacteria, can pass through the walls of the intestines more easily. This creates inflammation, which makes the spaces between the cells even bigger and compounds the problem.

The baby's body then creates an immune response which can be targeted at the wrong protein - often either lactose or bovine (cow) casein (an important protein present in all milk, but in different forms depending which animal the milk comes from) causing an allergic reaction the next time these proteins enter the intestines. Bovine casein is a very large protein compared to human casein and is significantly more difficult for the baby's digestive system to break down. If you consider the huge energy requirements for a calf which is born at around a third it's adult size compared to a baby which is born at only one twentieth or less of it's adult size this makes sense. This is another reason babies who are fed formula are often larger children than those exclusively breastfed.

As more studies are undertaken, it is becoming more obvious that excessive inflammation in the bowels (in both adults and babies) contributes to an increase in inflammation which makes conditions like asthma, eczema and arthritis worse.

Breastfeeding benefits your baby by making this situation much less likely because breast milk contains epidermal growth factors which make the cells of the intestines grow and mature more quickly, and it contains much smaller and easier to digest protein chains than formula. Obviously there are also less bacteria present to take advantage of the "leaky gut".

Other benefits presumably linked to this are the decrease in occurrence of coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, as there is in general less inflammation created in the digestive system.

If you feel that your baby has colic or gas pain, this website that shows new parents how to deal with colic using massage techniques to help relieve their baby's discomfort. It provides step-by-step instructions as well as a massage video.

Return to Breastfeeding Babies home page from Breastfeeding Benefits


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Did You Know?

1 - Exclusive breastfeedingis recommended by the World Health Organisation until your baby is 6 months old

2 - When you introduce solid food, as long as iron rich foods (like red meat - usually as mince) are introduced early, the order of introduction of other foods doesn't matter (in fact in most cases introducing potentially allergy or intolerance producing foods while still breastfeeding leads to less allergies and intolerances!)